The Washington County Grasslands is a 13,000 acre expanse of fields and meadows dotted with small woodlands, ponds and working farms. The area extends from the fertile valleys and rolling hills of southern Washington County to the southeastern peaks of the Adirondack Mountains on its northern border. Watered by the numerous streams and canals of the Hudson River valley and Lake Champlain basin, this rich natural area provides a livelihood for human residents and an “all you can eat buffet” for hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife.

The 2,000 acre Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area/IBA, located along the Hudson River flyway in upstate New York, lies at the heart of this incredible wildlife habitat. The IBA is critical to the survival of Short-eared Owls in New York State. It supports almost a dozen other threatened and at risk grassland bird species, including Northern Harrier, Upland Sandpiper, Eastern Meadowlark, American Kestrel, Sedge Wren, Savannah and Grasshopper Sparrows and more…

This unique IBA hosts abundant populations of grassland breeding birds like Eastern Meadowlarks, Bobolinks, and Bluebirds as well as wintering flocks of Snow Buntings and Horned Larks. Common raptor sightings include Bald Eagles, Osprey, Short-eared Owls, Northern Harriers, Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks (both dark and light morph). Snowy Owls are regular winter visitors.

A trail in the newly designated “Washington County Grasslands State Forest Area” gives visitors a chance to see and hear the birds for themselves. Go to for information on birding, guided walks, field trips and upcoming events and learn how you can help save our endangered owls!

See and learn about many of our native owls, hawks and falcons at Friends of the IBA’s annual Winter Raptor Fest. This exciting event features Live Bird of Prey programs and “free-flight” demos starring some of our most amazing raptors! Sign up for an Owl Watch or guided walk for your chance to see endangered Short-eared Owls, Snowy Owls and other wintering raptors in the wild! Horse-drawn sleigh/wagon rides, activities for kids, local food vendors and more round out this fun and exciting weekend where raptors rule! Learn more at: